15 Most Valuable 1991 Upper Deck Football Cards

Most Valuable 1991 Upper Deck Football Cards


After lighting the baseball card world on fire by entering the hobby in 1989, the 1991 Upper Deck football card set marked the company's official entrance into the football card world.

And collectors were not disappointed...

Upper Deck brought just as much of the high-quality and premium photography that collectors had grown to love from the young company.

Hobbyists were thrilled at seeing some of their favorite players like Jerry Rice, Barry Sanders, Joe Montana, Dan Marino and many more on premium card stock with sharp imagery.

Though the set debuted during an era of mass production, you might be surprised that some can still be worth something these days.

And in this guide, we'll take a look at the 15 most valuable in the checklist.

Let's jump right in!

Ross Uitts

Ross Uitts - Owner

Love sports cards?

Get my weekly newsletter with the latest hobby updates delivered straight to your inbox!

Let's be clear: most of the cards from this set do not have any value these days.

Like the 1991 Pro Set, Fleer, Pacific, Score, and Topps sets, large print runs saturated the market with these cards, driving down their values.

So, for the cards on this list to be worth much, they'll have to be graded by PSA to be in perfect, gem mint condition.

That means the card needs to be flawless.

Now that we got that out of the way, let's take a look at the list:

1991 Upper Deck #13 Brett Favre Rookie Card

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $85

In the 1991 NFL Draft, the Atlanta Falcons selected Brett Favre in the second round with the 33rd overall pick.

After a successful college career at Southern Miss, Favre gave the Falcons organization plenty of hope that his on-field abilities would eventually pay huge dividends.

However, after signing a three-year, $1.4 million deal, things didn't go exactly as planned for Favre and the Falcons.

Starting quarterback Chris Miller played well enough to earn a trip to the Pro Bowl, so Favre spent most of the season on the bench, appearing in only two games and attempting just four passes.

Each of those four passes occurred during a 56-17 blowout loss to the Washington Redskins, with two of them being intercepted, one of which was returned for a touchdown.

Furthermore, Favre's off-the-field antics of drinking and staying out late way too many times caused a huge rift between him and head coach Jerry Glanville.

It just wasn't a great start to an eventual Hall of Fame career and the image on this card perfectly summarized how things went for Favre as a rookie.

After the 1991 NFL season, the Falcons decided to cut the chord on Favre and traded him to the Green Bay Packers for a first-round selection in the 1992 NFL Draft.

1991 Upper Deck #13 Brett Favre Rookie Card

1991 Upper Deck #647 Brett Favre Rookie Force

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $70

The "Rookie Force" subset kicked off the set's High Series, spanning cards #601 to 652, with Favre's card being the most notable of the group.

On the reverse of the card, Upper Deck commemorates his success as Southern Mississippi's starting quarterback, where he won 27 regular-season games, two post-season bowl games, and earned MVP honors for the 1990 East-West Shrine Game.

The reverse also mentions that it was incredible how successful he was in college, given he only attempted 55 passes in high school.

His collegiate success didn't immediately translate into success in the NFL in 1991, as mentioned in the section above, but by 1992 he was a Pro Bowler for the Green Bay Packers.

Favre would eventually earn eleven Pro Bowl trips and become a three-time MVP, three-time All-Pro, and Super Bowl champion before entering the Hall of Fame as one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history.

1991 Upper Deck #647 Brett Favre Rookie Force Football Card

1991 Upper Deck #155 Bo Jackson

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $50

Whether you're talking baseball or football cards, you can't talk about too many sets from the late 80s or early 90s without seeing Bo Jackson's name near the top of the most desirable cards.

And that's because Bo Jackson was huge during that era.

He was on commercials, appeared in video games, was part of a cartoon...he was everywhere.

That's what happens when you're a two-sport phenom.

Unfortunately, during a playoff game against the Cincinnati Bengals in January 1991, Jackson's football career ended when he injured his hip after a hard tackle.

He'd be able to recover enough to play a few more years of Major League Baseball for the White Sox and Angels, but he would never set foot on the gridiron again.

In four seasons with the Los Angeles Raiders, Jackson rushed 515 times for 2,782 yards and sixteen touchdowns while reeling in 40 passes for 352 yards and two scores.

After playing in the All-Star Game for the Kansas City Royals in 1989, Jackson earned a trip to the Pro Bowl for his work during the 1990 NFL season.

He remains the only athlete ever to be both an MLB All-Star and NFL Pro Bowler.

1991 Upper Deck #155 Bo Jackson Football Card

1991 Upper Deck #35 Aerial Threats

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $40

During the 1990 NFL season, Joe Montana and Jerry Rice continued to be one of the most lethal quarterback and wide receiver combinations in history, and Upper Deck commemorated the duo with this "Aerial Threats" card.

The six-card subset featured five other impressive quarterback and wide receiver pairings, but none were nearly on the same level as Montana and Rice.

For Montana's part, he threw for 3,944 yards and 26 touchdowns during the 1990 season before being named MVP for the second year in a row.

And Jerry Rice led the league in receptions (100), receiving yards (1,502) and touchdown receptions (13) to earn his sixth-straight trip to the Pro Bowl.

Unfortunately, the two would barely see much action together after that. Montana missed the entire 1991 season due to an elbow injury and appeared in just one game during the 1992 season before eventually being traded to Kansas City.

1991 Upper Deck #35 Montana and Rice Aerial Threats Football Card

1991 Upper Deck #54 Joe Montana

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $35

Coming off back-to-back MVP seasons and looking to avenge a disappointing NFC Championship loss to the New York Giants, Joe Montana entered the 1991 campaign ready to keep the red hot 49ers offense going.

Unfortunately, things could not have started any worse for Montana when he injured his throwing elbow during the season.

At first, he and the team thought he could recover by resting and taking some shots.

But, he would ultimately need surgery and was shut down for the rest of the year.

And not only did he miss the entire 1991 season, but Montana nearly missed the whole 1992 season before appearing in the final game against the Detroit Lions.

That would be the last time Montana played for the 49ers as the team decided to move forward with Steve Young as the starter and traded Montana to the Kansas City Chiefs on April 20, 1993.

Upper Deck was always trying to bring innovation to the hobby and this card of multiple images depicting Montana dropping back and passing is a prime example.

1991 Upper Deck #54 Joe Montana Football Card

1991 Upper Deck #57 Jerry Rice

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $35

When Montana went down in the preseason, many wondered how Jerry Rice would adapt to San Francisco's new starting quarterback, Steve Young.

There was a bit of a drop-off in overall production, but Rice still finished with 80 receptions for 1,206 and an NFL-best 14 receiving touchdowns.

For the most part, Rice didn't seem to skip a beat.

However, despite earning his sixth-straight trip to the Pro Bowl, Rice would miss out on his sixth-straight All-Pro selection.

And after eight-straight seasons of making the playoffs, the 49ers could not keep that streak going either as they finished in third place in the NL West with a 10-6 record.

From 1985-98, 1991 was the only season that didn't precede a 49ers playoff appearance, so it was odd not to see Rice out there in the postseason.

Rice would eventually add one more Super Bowl ring with the 49ers in 1994 when they famously blew out the San Diego Chargers 49-26.

1991 Upper Deck #57 Jerry Rice Football Card

1991 Upper Deck #124 John Elway

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $35

Things could not have gone any worse for the Denver Broncos during the 1990 season as the team stumbled to a 5-11 record, the only losing record he had other than when he went 4-6 in 1983 as a rookie.

With a renewed focus on getting back to their winning ways, the Broncos completely turned things around to take first place in the AFC West with a 12-4 record.

It wasn't Elway's best season personally, but it wasn't his worst either.

With the league's twelfth-best offense and third-best defense, the Broncos looked to make a deep run in the playoffs, but it would take some more of Elway's signature heroics to keep things moving.

At their own 2-yard line and down 24-23 late in the team's AFC Divisional Round matchup with the Houston Oilers, Elway led Denver to Houston's 11-yard line before a David Treadwell kick sealed a 26-24 win.

Unfortunately, the Buffalo Bills slammed the brakes on Denver's Super Bowl hopes the following week in the AFC Championship Game as Elway went just 11 of 21 passes for 121 yards and an interception.

With the 7-10 loss to Buffalo, Elway was denied a chance at a Super Bowl ring yet again.

1991 Upper Deck #124 John Elway Football Card

1991 Upper Deck #154 Deion Sanders

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $35

While Bo Jackson's two-sport showcase ended depressingly before the 1991 NFL season, another two-sport star was ready to break out.

On July 31st, 1991, Deion Sanders hit a critical three-run home run for the Atlanta Braves in their march to a National League West Division title.

However, due to a stipulation in his contract with the Atlanta Falcons, the young cornerback was required to report to training camp on August 1st.

Sanders missed the rest of the MLB season and the Braves' postseason run to a National League pennant but still made the most of an awkward situation.

The fifth pick of the 1989 NFL Draft, Sanders was inconsistent in coverage during his first two professional seasons but emerged as a shutdown corner and playmaker in Atlanta's secondary in 1991.

In 15 starts on the right side, Sanders picked off six passes and returned one for a touchdown while posting 49 combined tackles, a sack, two forced fumbles, and one fumble recovery.

On special teams for the playoff-bound Falcons, Sanders returned 21 punts for 170 yards and 26 kickoffs for 576 yards and a highlight-reel 100-yard touchdown at San Francisco.

And to top off his first Pro Bowl campaign, Sanders even caught a pass for a 17-yard gain.

1991 Upper Deck #154 Deion Sanders Football Card

1991 Upper Deck #172 Emmitt Smith

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $35

After finishing the 1989 season with a nearly winless record at 1-15, the Dallas Cowboys looked to Emmitt Smith, their 17th pick of the 1990 NFL Draft, to help turn things around.

Smith certainly didn't disappoint as he captured the Offensive Rookie of the Year Award and helped the Cowboys improve to 7-9 during his rookie 1990 season.

And by 1991, Smith and crew were starting to look like the dominant force they'd become throughout the 1990s.

Smith tore it up on the ground, rushing for 1,563 yards and winning his first of four rushing titles in five years.

He also finished the year as the NFL's leader in carries (365) and skill-position touches (414), adding 49 receptions for 258 yards and a score.

With a second-place finish in the NFC East with an 11-5 record, the team had matched its win total from the previous three seasons combined.

In the NFC Wild Card Game, Smith carried the ball 26 times for 105 yards and a touchdown in a nail-biting 17-13 road win over the Chicago Bears.

Unfortunately, that's where Dallas's run came to a crashing halt as Barry Sanders and the Detroit Lions pummeled them 38-6 in the Divisional Round.

1991 Upper Deck #172 Emmitt Smith Football Card

1991 Upper Deck #255 Dan Marino

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $35

Coming off a 1990 season where the Dolphins finished at 12-4 in the AFC East and were bounced in the Divisional Round by the arch-rival Buffalo Bills, Dan Marino recharged his pursuit of a ring in 1991.

Unfortunately, the team took a step backward and finished at a disappointing 8-8 and their postseason hopes ruined.

But, as far as Dan Marino's performance was concerned, he certainly did his part to put wins on the board.

As always, Marino relentlessly picked apart opposing defenses, completing 318 passes on 549 attempts for 3,970 yards and 25 touchdowns.

With Marino at the helm, Miami finished third in the NFL in passing, sixth in points scored, and seventh in total offense.

Had the Miami defensive front been able to contain the run that year, the Dolphins could've made another playoff run.

However, the Dolphins finished the year second-to-last in total rushing defense and as a bottom-five squad in points allowed (24th out of 28) and total defense (25th).

For his efforts, Marino earned his sixth trip to the Pro Bowl after missing out on the honor for the previous three seasons.

1991 Upper Deck #255 Dan Marino Football Card

1991 Upper Deck #444 Barry Sanders

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $35

The 1991 season was a banner year for future Hall-of-Fame running back Barry Sanders and the Detroit Lions.

After starting quarterback Rodney Peete helped guide the team to a 5-2 record, he suffered a season-ending injury to his Achilles tendon during Week 8 against the San Francisco 49ers.

Backup Erik Kramer filled in admirably for Peete the rest of the year to help the Lions to a first-place finish in the NFC Central at 12-4.

However, despite who was the starting quarterback for the Lions that year, it was clear that the offense would primarily go through Barry Sanders on the ground as the third-year superstar racked up 342 carries.

And he piled up all those carries in just fifteen games after he sat out the team's Week 1 shutout loss to the eventual Super Bowl champion Washington Redskins due to sore ribs.

On the year, Sanders accumulated 1,548 rushing yards for a league-best 103.2 yards per game to go along with a league-best 16 rushing touchdowns.

In the NFC Divisional Round game against the Dallas Cowboys, Sanders posted nearly 100 yards from scrimmage as a dual-threat weapon for the NFC Central champions to help secure the 38-6 victory.

Unfortunately for Detroit, they haven't won a playoff game since then.

1991 Upper Deck #444 Barry Sanders Football Card

1991 Upper Deck #152 Troy Aikman

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $30

By 1991, the Dallas Cowboys woes of the late 1980s were a thing of the past as the offense began to kick things into high gear.

Led by a stout offensive line and the three-headed monster of Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin, the Cowboys began the season at 6-5.

Aikman was sharp through those first eleven games, passing for 2,754 yards and 11 touchdowns with a solid 65.3% completion percentage.

But then, things took a turn for the worse for the future Hall of Famer.

During a crucial Week 12 game on the road against the division rival Washington Redskins, Aikman had to leave the game due to injury.

Luckily for Dallas, backup quarterback Steve Beurelein kept things sailing smoothly to help defeat the Redskins 24-21.

And Buerlein and crew just kept on winning from there, finishing second in the NFC East with an 11-5 record and upsetting the #4 seed Chicago Bears on the road in the Wild Card.

However, down 17-6 at halftime against the Detroit Lions in the Divisional Round, head coach Jimmy Johnson pulled Beurlein in favor of Aikman to try and reverse course.

Unfortunately, Aikman and the Cowboys continued to fizzle on offense and the Lions won 38-6.

1991 Upper Deck #152 Troy Aikman Football Card

1991 Upper Deck #356 Thurman Thomas

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $30

The Buffalo Bills teams of the 1990s were always dominant on offense, driven largely by the multidimensional threat that Thurman Thomas to the field.

Few guys in NFL history could beat you both on the ground and through the air as Thomas could.

In back-to-back seasons in 1989 and 1990, Thomas led the NFL in yards from scrimmage with 1,913 and 1,829 total yards, respectively.

Buffalo Bills fans and the rest of the NFL wondered what Thomas would have in mind for 1991 that could possibly top those numbers.

Thomas answered by becoming the eleventh player (at the time) to eclipse the 2,000 all-purpose yards mark.

With the Bills' high-powered offense working like a well-oiled machine, nobody seemed to be able to stop Thomas and company.

On the ground, Thomas rushed 288 times for 1,407 yards and seven touchdowns while reeling in 62 passes for 631 yards and five scores through the air.

His 2,038 all-purpose yards made it the third year in a row that he would lead the NFL.

And when the season came to a close, Thomas rightfully took home both MVP and Offensive Player of the Year honors.

1991 Upper Deck #356 Thurman Thomas Football Card

1991 Upper Deck #402 Jerry Rice Season Leaders

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $30

Nobody was better in the receiving game during the 1990 season than Jerry Rice, as the Hall of Famer led the league in receptions (100), receiving yards (1502), and receiving touchdowns (13).

To commemorate his achievements, Upper Deck included him in their "Season Leaders" subset, which spanned cards #401 to 406.

Maybe the most impressive thing about this card is that when you turn it over on the reverse side, you'll see three Houston Oilers on there.

During the 1990 campaign, Haywood Jeffires posted 1,048 receiving yards, Drew Hill another 1,019, and Ernest Givens turned in another 979.

Had Givens managed another 21 receiving yards, the trio would've become just the third group of players with 1,000 yards each in NFL history.

Amazingly, they came even closer during the 1991 season when Jeffires finished with 1,181 receiving yards, Hill racked up 1,109 yards, and Givens fell just four yards short of 1,000 with 996 yards.

As you can see, Warren Moon was busy lighting things up through the air in 1990 and 1991 as he led the league in passing yards in both seasons with 4,689 and 4,690, respectively.

Since then, the Atlanta Falcons (1995), Indianapolis Colts (2004), and Arizona Cardinals (2008) each featured a trio of players with more than 1,000 receiving yards each.

1991 Upper Deck #402 Jerry Rice Leaders Football Card
1991 Upper Deck #402 Jerry Rice Season Leaders Football Card Reverse Side

1991 Upper Deck #627 Brett Favre Rookie Force Checklist

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $30

This card served as a checklist for the NFC representatives of the "Rookie Force" subset, and the Atlanta Falcons boasted five members in that subset.

Brett Favre, Moe Gardner, Erric Pegram, Bruce Pickens and Mike Pritchard all went on to varying degrees of success in the NFL, but by the 2000 season, Favre was the last of the group still playing.

Seated on the bench with his cap backward, you could already get a sense that Favre was a guy who meant business as a serious competitor with that look on his face.

Eleven Pro Bowls, three MVPs, and a Super Bowl Ring certainly solidified Favre's legacy as a force to be dealt with.

1991 Upper Deck #627 Favre Pritchard Pegram Checklist

1991 Upper Deck Football Cards In Review

The 1991 Upper Deck football card set clocked in at 700 cards issued across two series.

Though it does contain several stars and Hall of Famers, the key to the set are the #13 Brett Favre "Star Rookie" and the #647 Brett Favre "Rookie Force" cards.

Beyond that, big names like Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, Emmitt Smith, Bo Jackson, Barry Sanders and others help round out a set that was pretty flashy for its time.

Unopened Box of 1991 Upper Deck Football Cards

There were also several interesting subsets, including:

  • Star Rookies (#1 - 29)
  • Aerial Threats (#30 - 35)
  • Season Leaders (#401 - 406)
  • Team MVP's (#450 - 487)
  • Rookie Force (#601 - 652)
  • Arch Rivals (#653 - 658)

The importance of this set lies primarily with the fact that Upper Deck had finally tossed its name into the football card world to try and compete with the other traditional names.

And they upped the game when it came to quality.

For those who grew up collecting these cards, I'm sure you can appreciate them still to this day even if their values may not be through the roof.

Ross Uitts

Ross is the founder of Old Sports Cards and has been collecting sports cards for over 30 years. He also loves to write about the hobby and has written for Beckett, Topps, SABR and of course, this website. Need help buying or selling cards or have a general question about the hobby? Contact him at [email protected]

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 0 comments